tv Countdown With Keith Olbermann MSNBC January 24, 2011 8:00pm-9:00pm EST
so what? bill clinton wanted to do a lot of this but was warned about high interest rates. that's not our problem today. the problem is 9.4% unemployment rate and we want that number to come down. an aggressive private and public investment effort is the way to get there. let's cheer the president. . he'll be a progressive tomorrow night. a job-producing problems ive. "the last word with lawrence o'donnell" starts right now. >> good evening from new york. i'm lawrence o'donnell. with those words i begin every edition of "the last word" in 2010. when i got to 201 1 i stopped introducing myself every night because i figured my audience know who i was by then and the rest could figure it out from the title "the last word with lawrence o'donnell." now i've moved to a time slot owned by keith olbermann for eight years, i think i better put my name back in the script for a while. i've been here before. keith invited me to be a guest
on "countdown" more times than any of us can remember and i was keith's substitute host for over a year, before starting this program in the 10:00 hour. i am here, thanks entirely to keith. i'll have more to say about this tonight. but first, there is some news today that keith would want you to know about. >> it is go time for president obama. >> president obama is still working on his second state of the union address. >> the president is preparing for his second state of the union message. >> we're up to it. >> i think tomorrow night you'll see a very strong progressive case. >> but some republicans are already picking their candidates for 2012. >>. >> look at the rest of this list, ron paul, tim pawlenty and sarah palin, who got just 7%. >> new hampshire, new hampshire. >> plurality did not think sarah palin is -- has the qualifications to be president. >> new hampshire. >> none of those people would
have been in the top 30 of the republican party 20, 25 years ago. >> sarah palin knows fewer words than coco the gorilla. >> former half-term governor alaska saved from last place by the tea party congresswoman, who will give the tea party response to the state of the union. >> second rebuttal, this one from congresswoman michele bachmann representing tea party. >> michele bachmann spent her weekend in iowa and then on monday -- >> justice scalia is participate on a seminar on the constitution hosted by freshman congresswoman michele bachmann. >> and what was the rest of congress doing? >> the pressure's on for lawmakers to find a date for tomorrow night. >> cross over the aisle and sit with colleagues. >> this started with the idea from representative mark udall. >> are you going to sit with a democrat at the state of the union? >> i'm going to sit where i usually sit.
>> maybe cut back a little bit on all the jumping up and down. >> reminds me of high school or kindergarten. >> every president, regardless of party, tries to stroke every erogenous zone in the electorate. >> striking couple there. >> oh, my goodness. >> conservative next to liberal, gay next to straight, nerd next to jock. oh, wait, that was an episode of "glee." >> new hampshire republicans will cast their first votes in the presidential primary a year from now. but early signs point to a wild ride to the finish line for all of the leading candidates. a recent straw poll of new hampshire republican party committee members put ex-ma' ex-massachusetts governor mitt romney in the lead with 35%. the unelectable texas representative ron paul was in second place with 11%. third place went to the candidate who i would pick to win the nomination, if i had to pick today, which i don't, but i
think i just did, minnesota governor tim pawlenty with 8%. the worst performer in the poll, given the expectation level attached to the fact that most of the media continues to pretend she is popular, sarah palin, finishing behind tim pawlenty, who the media largely ignores. in another election for new hampshire republican party chair, tea party candidate jack kim ball narrowly beat burgeor. >> we are in a war and we are going to win it. we are going to pull ourselves back from the brink. we're going to go after the democrats the entire time. >> and speaking of tough talking politicians making news in local races, after bill clinton campaigned from last week, rahm
ee m ee manual's end could have hit a dead end. they're sending ballots to the printer without emanuel's name on them. he's not eligible to run because he moved to washington, d.c. two years ago. emanuel's lawyer says he plans to immediately appeal the decision to the imi will supreme court. if rahm emanuel can't run for mayor of chicago, might he run the obama/biden re-election campaign? >> joining now are howard feinman, senior political editor of huffington post and mark mckennan co-founder of the centrist report no labels. out of chicago, first of all, rahm emanuel knocked off the ballot. is this, can he get back on the ballot? if he can't, what does it mean to the obama/biden re-election campaign? >> it's almost it. he doesn't have much time. if he can't get on the ballot,
has to attempt to run as a write-in candidate, according to history, nobody's done that in chicago. chicago is not a write-in kind of place, as you know, lawrence. everything is supposed to go according to plan in chicago. certainly for somebody close to the daleys, the way rahm is, close to obama, who knows the machine, et cetera, but it's not going according to plan. as you said, ballots are being printeded. it's very, very difficult here. now he's forced to argue after this very strong, although 2-1, but strong finding by the appellate court that he wasn't a resident. he's now emphasizing the argument he was called to washington to serve his president almost as a military person would. that's a total contrast to what he was saying before. while it might work legally, it's a longshot and confuses the voters of chicago. >> mark, aa former presidential -- republican presidential strategist and now with the centrist group no
labels looking at these results in the new hampshire popularity poll, basically, with those committee members, what does it tell us? romney comes out with a big number but we always tend to discount that when you come from a neighboring state. what do you make of the rest of the lineup? >> first of all, lawrence, congratulations on your evolution. well deserved. the last place you want to be in new hampshire is in first place right now because new hampshire has a great history of, first of all, knocking off the front-runner. they hate the establishment. and so, romney's got nowhere to go but down. this is almost where he was in 2008. he was in a strong position, being in a neighboring state. as john mccain sunk his anchor in there and worked the turf and knocked him out. so, i think it's precarious place, actually, for romney to be in. what it really means is new hampshire's wide open. >> howard, i've been making the case that every one of these candidates has a serious flawed defect. i've had republicans come on
here and make the case also there's a defect in the candidacy to prevent them from going all the way. the only what i don't see that on is tim pawlenty. on the leader in that poll, just when i thought i knew everything that was wrong with romney's candidacy, we discover the marriott hotel chain have decided they will no longer be a major porn provider through their pay-per-view porn systems in the hotels. and that mitt romney, who's been on that board, has been referred to within republican circles, by social conservatives as, quote, a major porngrapher. does marriott saying we won't sell that in our new hotels help romney or come up to show all the strange ways in which romney has problems? >> that is a strange one. just the fact we're discussing
mitt romney, you know, and the new hampshire straw poll there and the porn industry, i don't care how you're going to play that, is not something that goes to his advantage. i agree with mark. this showing up there is not particularly overwhelming by any means. and i agree with mark, it means that new hampshire's wide open. mitt romney, don't forget, is from next door. people from massachusetts can, if they play it right, do well there. people -- i think other candidates might have at one point thought of playing down new hampshire. now they're all going to play there and they're going to be looking to bury mitt romney's candidacy right there in new hampshire, especially with that new tea party oriented chairman of the republican party there. >> translate thatted onty in this outcome. have you romney, historically one of the most liberal of these candidates. he's the one that brought what is considered obamacare to massachusetts before obama thought about it. and here he is coming out on top of that poll, while at the same time, a tea partier comes out on
top of the establishment candidate for a party position up there. those two things don't seem to go together. >> well, they don't. let me mention the marriott decision. one thing it means is i won't be going to the marriott. >> there's always the internet, mark. you might check it out some time. >> it's a reflection of what we're seeing happening in republican politics. romney, the establishment, getting the top vote there but tea party getting sponsorship. we're beginning to see the real fractures of what's happening with the tea party, the real impact we'll have in electoral politics both in congress, at the state of the union and now new hampshire to see the electoral politics coming up in 2012. >> mark, you wrote in "the daily beast" president obama now has a better than 67% chance of winning re-election. what data did you put into the computer to come out at 67%? >> well, that's -- that's just historical data.
as you look back at incumbent presidents over history and what the percentage of incumbents that were re-elected. first of all, incumbents have a decided advantage any way you look at, it fund-raising, infrastructure, having been through the drill before. i noted 12 reasons that seemed to me that president obama has an advantage. i look at president bush's campaign in 2004. he was not particularly popular at the time. he was in a difficult foreign conflict. the economy wasn't great. and yet he was still re-elected. i would like to say that was due to a brilliant campaign but a lot had to do with incumbency. >> big speech for the president, what some consider the kickoff of his re-ee lebz campaign. we heard george will talking every president, regardless of party, tries to stroke every erogenous zone in the electorate. what zones does president obama
have to, i guess, stroke tomorrow night? >> of course, george will was discussing the marriott hotel decision. >> no, he wasn't. he was talking about state of the union. cut that out. we're done with the marriott thing, guys. >> okay, the biggest erogenous zone in the american psyche. it's what's president obama is going to focus on in terms of economics because the current situation in terms of joblessness and home foreclosures and so forth is still pretty grim. and the president is going to have to reframe the discussion about who can see to our long-term economic future. aides at the white house point me the other day to a speech the president gave in north carolina in december as kind of the template in which he talked about, in essence, another split moment. in other words, we face down the competition of the soviet union,
now we're facing competition from all around the world, asia in particular. if we don't get our act together in terms of invasion, education, innovation, infrastructure and so on, we'll miss that long-range future for our children and grandchildren. that's going to be nice and uplifting and so forth but it's a way that he'll have to counterbalance that with the tough news about what they're going to have to do on the deficit and the debt. interestingly, i think the president, while he may allude to social security, he's made it clear he won't put in in cuts, much to the relief of progressives. >> thank you both for joining me tonight. >> thank you. center bernie sanders is worried about what president obama will say tomorrow about social security. senator sanders joins me next. later, i'll talk about what eight years of "countdown" did for this network and what keith olbermann did for me.
among mystery's still surrounding tomorrow's state of the union is what the president will say about social security and what he will say about gun and ammunition control. independent senator bernie sanders has put both the white house and republican party on notice. he joins me next. supreme court justice scalia cozies up to michele you bachmann and the tea party this evening. so much for supreme court justices being above politics. my reaction to the changes you're seeing tonight on msnbc. one four-star hotel. two identical rooms. so why does this one cost so much less on hotwire.com? when hotels have unsold rooms they use hotwire hot rates to fill them, so you get ridiculously low prices,
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we could hear about in tomorrow's state of the union address, the future of social security. "the washington post" is reporting president obama will not endorse his budget deficit commission's call to raise the retirement age nor will he try to reduce spending on social security. but as of this afternoon, the white house was continuing to stay mum. >> i was going to print up a slide that said, the president's state of the union is at 9 p.m. on tuesday. i likely should have done that. i know there's a lot of con veb tour back and forth. i'm going to wait until -- wait until the speech. >> the man chosen to speak for republicans in their response tomorrow night, wisconsin representative paul ryan, who advocates increasing the social security retirement age, cutting the rate of increase of social security benefits for people over 55, and virtually dismantling the program for people under 55. joining me now from capitol
hill, vermont independent senator bernie sanders. senator, thank you very much for joining me tonight. >> good to be with you, larry. >> senator, whose ideas do you really hope get more attention tomorrow night, the president's or congressman ryan's plan to cut social security spending? >> well, that's an interesting question. and i hope both of the ideas get significant coverage. we need a real national debate on what congressman ryan has been saying. and i applaud him for being straight forward and forthcoming. essentially what he is talking about, what his blueprint for the future is, are massive tax cuts for the richest people in this country, privatization of social security, massive cutbacks in medicare and medicaid and other programs that the middle class and working families of this country desperately need. so, i think at a time when the middle class is collapsing, poverty is increasing and the
richest people are doing phenomenally well, i think we should have a very clean and respectful debate about where congressman ryan would like to take this country. >> senator, do you think there's any chance the republicans will actually bring the ryan plan to a vote in the house of representatives? >> well, i'll tell you something, larry, if the republicans don't, you know what, i will. i will do my best to bring the ryan plan to the floor of the united states senate, to give my republican colleagues the opportunity to vote to privatize social security, medicaid and medicare and make massive cuts on programs needed by ordinary people at the same time they give tax breaks to the rich. 23 that's what they want to campaign on, let them vote on it that. if they don't bring that forward, i'll make it my best to see they have that vote. >> some people would -- there's a long tradition in the senate of exactly this kind of vote, where one party is proposing something that the other party,
in this case you, know, you absolutely know they won't vote for. >> right. >> you and i would agree, if you can get that to a vote in the senate as an amendment on something, you're going to get over 90 votes against it. i mean maybe jim demint will vote for it but i think you'll get 98, 99 votes against it. boent you? >> i think you're right. that's why very have to end this nonsense. you can't talk about giving trillions in tax breaks to people who don't need it in move in any way toward a balanced budget by cutting programs millions of people depend on. larry, we have to put this in the context of what's going on in the united states today. and that is a collapse of the middle class and an increase in poverty. so, i think this type of debate between what congressman ryan is talking about, what he has outlined for the republican party, is a good debate to have. and i think at the end of the
day, what will happen is the vast majority of the people will say, excuse me, it is insane to be giving huge tax breaks to people who don't need it and cutting back or privatizing social security and medicare. >> senator, do you have a date for the state of the union tomorrow night? it looks like it's prom night. and republicans are asking democrats and democrats are inviting republicans to go and sit beside each other at the state of the union address. you may just walk by yourself or is someone going with you? >> i'll tell you, larry, as an independent, it's not hard for me to find people who disagree with me. i don't think i'll have any problem sitting next to somebody whose views are very different from mine. >> john mccain is going to sit next to senator udall. announced a lot of different couplings we've never seen before. i can tell you i once ended up sitting on the republican side of a state of the union address by accident. i was actually given bob dole's seat when he was minority leader. there i was in the front of the
republicans. it was a very odd sensation. and i think a lot of people sitting in their new seats tomorrow night are going to have some very odd feelings about it. do you think there will be any good effect from it? >> i do. you know, i think the tragedy in arizona has sobered people up a little bit. and i think the vitriol will and should calm down a bit. but i think at the end of the day, while all of these things are positive, and you've got to be listening to people whose views are different than yours, at the end of the day, there are very huge philosophical divisions in the united states congress. i think they should be debated fully and forcefully, although respectfully without venom. but i think the american people and congress need to have a real conversation as to where the united states of america is today, where our middle class is and where we want to go. what i worry about, larry, deep in my heart, is that this country is moving in the
direction of an alegarchy, relatively few people, wealthy people on top, have more money than they've ever had before. with that money they are exercising incredible power as a result of citizens united on our political system. they can make huge amounts of money in campaign contributions without disclosure. and they're also having, obviously, a great impact on our economy as a result of increased concentration of ownership. >> senator sanders, senator lautenberg in new jersey is going to introduce congresswoman carolyn mccarthy's bill to ban the sale -- to go back to what we had for ten years and ban the sale of those ammunition clips of the kind used in tucson that can fire 31 bullets instead of that limit of 10 that used to be there. there's a lot of professional talk about, oh, it's hopeless. you can't get anything like that through congress. is this a moment in the aftermath of tucson to drop the
political calculation and just try to fight for something that should be done like this without regard to whether it's an easy one or a difficult one to win? >> well, i think guns are an issue that need a lot of discussion. i'm going to be doing a lot of town meetings in my state of vermont. we have a lot of gun owners. i want to hear what they have to say and i'll be listening to what they have to say. >> on the filibuster, senator, there's been this talk that there might be a move in the senate to be able to change the filibuster rules of the senate. when are we going to see a move on that, if at all? >> larry, i hope that happens very, very soon. i think there is no debate. there shouldn't be any debate. that republicans have kind of usurped the system and have brought forth more filibusters or pseudo-filibusters, if you like, demanding 60 votes on any piece of legislation of any consequence. that's not what the senate is supposed to be about. historically the 60 votes came about on very contentious issues
and it happened very rarely. now it's meter of fact. i believe strongly we need filibuster reform and i hope we get it in this session. >> bernie sanders, vermont's independent senator. thank you for joining us tonight, senator. >> good to be with you. michele bachmann hosted a tea party caucus meeting this evening and supreme court justice antonin scalia was the guest of hour. despite the facts surrounding the tucson massacre, the gun lobby and gun profitiers are spinning overtime to convince us we should have the right to carry around high-capacity ammunition clips to carry 31 bullet es from a handgun without reloading just like jared loughner. you know when to hold 'em... and how to fold 'em. and you...rent from national. because only national
supreme court justices attending tea party meetings? justice antonin scalia attended the house tea party caucus meeting tonight to talk about the constitution but he won't let us know what he said. glenn greenwald explains why we should all be concerned about tonight's meeting and the supreme court's independence. and my thoughts on keith's debar tour from this time slot. ♪
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justice clarence thomas amended more than 20 years worth of financial disclosure forms as a liberal watch dog group questioned the omission of his wife's place of employment. he said it was inadvertently admitted. meanwhile, supreme court justice scal scalia kicked off sarah palin's constitutional seminars as a guest lecturer. he spoke about the separate of powers to more than 50 congressmen and staffers, according to what they tell us, bachmann counted at least three democrats in today's audience. what exactly scalia said to the group we don't know. the event was closed to the press. there is no official record of the event. for what it's worth, here's how congresswoman bachmann and her tea party colleagues described it. >> justice scalia took questions about a number of hot-button topics we're dealing with in the congress right now. i really appreciate him coming
across the street and sharing his views with us. i think he gay our new members and our old members good advice. that is to look first to the united states constitution. >> he has a unique ability to discuss complex issues in a very simplistic manner. and with an unbelievable and profound respect for being -- >> they didn't bring up the health care. the question of earmarks came up. whether or not the constitutionality of earmarks would be considered constitutional. that was one issue that came up. we won't be giving the justice's thoughts. >> joining me from rio, constitutional lawyer and columnist to salon.com, glenn greenwa greenwald. "the new york times" called it a bad idea for justice scalia to accept the invitation to speak to this group saying, by meeting behind closed doors and presiding over a seminar, the
justice would give the impression that he was joining the throng, confirming his new moniker as justice from the tea party. glenn, doesn't a supreme court justice, above all in a situation like this, have to care about perception? >> absolutely. and the supreme court itself has said that repeatedly. i mean, remember that the key principle here is that judges are vested with extraordinary power in the american political system. power that no elected official, including the president even yields. they can strike down laws that the american people through their congress enact, even when huge majorities want those laws, like they did in citizens united last year when they struck down campaign finance laws, like they're trying to do now, the american right is, with the health care law that was passed democratically and signed into law. they can take your property. they can take your liberty. they can even take your life in death penalty cases. as we saw in 2000, this can
sometimes dictate the outcome of presidential elections. so what we demand of judges who are unelected and serve for life in exchain of giving these sweeping powers, they refrain from being political actors. they make decisions only on the law and always act impartially. like you said, it's not that they just do that in fact, but that they are per seoed to be impartial. that's what the supreme court has said is crucial, less the american people lose faith in the court as a legitimate branch of government. what you see with clarence thomas and especially with antonin scalia, it's been going on for years but it's gotten much worse, is they've turned themselves into tools and parts of the activists american conservative movement in a very politicized way, crass and brazen we haven't season from supreme court justices in the last century. it calls into question their legitimacy of their rulings from their bench. >> over the years supreme court members have had many ways of
communicating just beyond their legal opinions. if a justice felt it's time for me to get out there and give some constitutional views that seem to be getting lost in today's arguments about politics, he or she could go to a law school, give that lecture at a law school. any member of congress would have access to that lecture, anything their favorite justice just said. isn't that the way a supreme court justice should be doing any kind of extra-judicial communication rather than going and talking to a little group of, you know, 30, 40 house members? >> well, right. i mean, one part of that is that there is a tradition in general that judges don't speak in public, try not to be known. what they purposely have sought out to do traditionally is confine themselves to dignified apolitical and largely legal settings, so they'll go and speak to a group of law professors. or even judges where gone and
spoken to legal groups, like the federal society on the right or american constitutional society, which tends to be more liberal. those are speeches delivered about legal and constitutional and judicial issues. it's not uncommon for chief justices to speak about the state of the court and the judiciary in general to call on more appointments, but you see where thomas and scalia is radically different. to go and speak in private at the invitation of the tea party caucus, one of the most controversial groups in the country, where for scalia to go hunting with dick cheney like in 2003, leaks before a controversial case involving dick cheney was going to be decided and of course scalia voted in favor of cheney. or the recent revelation that they appeared at a fund-raiser, a secret fund-raiser, sponsored by the coke brothers, the two
individuals who fund lots of right wing causes, at the very same time they were deciding the citizens united case, which were downed to the benefit greatly of the coke brothers who proceeded to spend tons of money in the last election s a crass politicalization we haven't seen. it's much different from the traditional ways in the rare instances when justices want to speak to the public, they do it in a way that doesn't subvert the legitimacy of their rulings. >> glenn, how concerned should we be about justice thomas failing for over 20 years to identify the source of his wife's income? the source of his wife's income has been public. we knew she worked for dick armey. we know what she's doing now. but leaving it off those -- i've seen those forms. it isn't easy to leave that blank. what -- what's your take on that? >> well, there's two aspects to it. one, those forms are required by the governmentette licks law so if you're a litigant before the court you may not know what
justice thomas' wife does, so you check those forms and see it if there's any conflicts. the citizens united case, for example, the tea party group that his wife was running was a direct beneficiary of the citizens united ruling because they get so much of their money from unlimited donors and aren't able to spend in unlimited ways thanks to that decision and she gets a salary we haven't had disclosed from that decision as well. that's a very serious ethical issue. but on top of that, remember, this is a judge on the united states supreme court who constantly imposes punishment on people, who failed to follow the law. these directions and instructions are very clear. it says you are to disclose any source of income. he just wrote none for 20 years. it's inexcusable. >> glenn greenwald, thank you for joining you tonight. >> my pleasure. thank you. coming up, new york mayor michael bloomberg reveals the moment when he felt the impact of gun violence in america. that's in "the rewrite" and later a word about keith
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what should president obama say in the state of the union about gun and ammunition control and about banning those high capacity ammunition magazines like those used in the stew son shooting? mayor michael bloomberg of new york shows the president how to do it. >> ( speaking chinese ) >> ( speaking chinese ) >> ( laughing ) >> introducing cisco umi. be together in high def on your tv. exclusively at best buy's magnolia stores. cisco.
see nation's political third rail in this speech -- gun control. in those first days after the tucson massacre the calls for reform started right here on this network. particularly when it comes to outlawing the previously banned high-capacity magazines like the one jared loughner is suspected of using on january 8th. then senator frank lautenberg and congresswoman carolyn mccarthy announced they would introduce legislation to reintroduce the ban on high-capacity magazines. on the website of the nra's a statement refers to that sensible reform as, one of several schemes, and goes on to say, these magazines are standard equipment for self-defense handguns and other firearms owned by tens of millions of americans. law-abiding private citizens choose them for many reasons, including the same reason police officers do. to improve their odds in defensive situations. okay, nra. it's now on you to show us a
case of anyone who could not defend themselves during the ten years these magazines were banned. anyone who could not defend themselves with ten bullets instead of 30 bullets. just show us those cases and then we'll decide if it's worth it to subject everyone else in the country of the risks of the jared loughners who would appear with 30 bullets ready to fire in any shopping mall parking lot in america. the center for public integrity published a report showing that for the past 18 years the makers of these high-capacity magazines have raised millions of dollars for the nra. the same report also notes, some of these vendors of high-capacity magazines also boast executives who are board members of the nra. so, the merchants of death are buying their political protection from the nra and leave us to stare at our
children and wonder, who among them will be the next 9-year-old their high-capacity magazines unload on? the next christina taylor green. voices of reason continue to emerge. this morning new york mayor michael bloomberg joined martin luther king iii at a press conference. behind them, 34 victims of gun violence. 34 because that's the number of americans killed by handguns each and every day. speaking without a written text, the mayor reframed the way america should be thinking about this. he is not an unrealistic idealist. he's a practical man of government. a mayor of new york, who simply believes enough is enough. >> i don't think that it ever hit home in my case until the first time, which was probably
back in 2002, i had to go to a hospital and tell a parent that their son or daughter was never going to come home. the greatest country in the world, the greatest democracy every created and yet we have this carnage and our democratic system so far has been unwilling to fix it. no rational person thinks you should be able to sell a rifle that's advertised as able to bring down a commercial airliner. nobody thinks we should be selling armor-piercing bullets. you don't need that if you're hunting deer or elk. we shouldn't be selling guns to addicts or criminally deranged and the law on the books say you can't. the difference is, congress has been unwilling to fix it. washington's got to do that and we call on the president to lead that charge the way president johnson did. thank you.
>> we can only hope that the president's speech writers were just taking notes. if the president follows republican and democratic tradition tomorrow night and says not a word about gun and ammunition control f he does not use this moment of his increasing popularity, if he does not believe he has the communication skills to convey the necessity to control the capacity of automatic weapons, then i for one will become disappointeded in him for the first time. and he will become part of the problem. of thee i sing; ohhhhh, land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrims' pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring! ♪
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for keith on this hour in 2009. the boss of the county countdown" team, the isabella povich, now the boss of me, had obviously instructed the staff to pretend they were confident i could do it. i knew i couldn't. there was no way to occupy keith's anchor desk without seeming smaller, much smaller in every way that mattered and in every way that made the show the most successful hour in msnbc history. i had never been nervous before doing television before that night. hi been agitated and out of sorts and off my game and intemp rat, silly, but never nervous. it took me a while to recognize the feeling. then the feeling was about to overtake me when rich stockwell started talking me through the show and suddenly, the room was filled with confidence. his, not mine, but it was enough for both of us and anyone else on the staff who needed any, but none of them did. these wonderful writers i was meeting for the first time
presented me with elegant scripts. elan riley, who could never fit everything she knew in a script. jonathan larson who dug deep and taught me things i did not know, brendon, who made me laugh, and the invaluable greg cordic who wrote all of connective tissue of the show and made sure it could be done in the 60 minutes other than the 120 their material deserved. the show was directed that night by brian nelznic with the help of several others. by the time the red light went on over my camera, i knew that i was in the hands of professionals who simply were not going to let me fail. and when you saw me reading the teleprompter that july night, i know you were disappointed not to see keith, but you did not turn away, or i should say click away. you kept watching not because of me, but because the same people who delivered you "countdown"
every night were still delivering you "countdown," the same people minus one, the most important one, but it was still "countdown." i went on to host more times than anyone wanted me to. keith stayed at his father's bedside for what turned out to be his final days. i hosted all but one . keith's time away from the show last year was not a restful one. there was certainly no time to rest when he returned. consider what keith invented and taught us to do. op-ed tv. the incomparable maureen dowd is a friend of mine. i knowfy told her i want to do five op-ed columns in a week, she would te me that's impossible and ask me if i know how hard it is to do even one. i do know. i've done a few, very few.
that's why i marvelled, as any writer must, at what keith was doing five op-eds a week, each of them much, much longer than the standard 800 words. this is the only place in television where people are surprised if you leave after eight years. in the entertainment division of this company, if a show like, say, "the west wing" wins every possible award and runs for seven years, everyone just applauds an extraordinary show for an extraordinary run. i saw -- i saw exactly how exhausted the great aaron sorkin was after delivering 22 episodes a year of "the west wing." well, keith delivered 20 a month. 20 a month. hundreds of episodes a year. hundreds of op-eds a year. year in and year out. for eight years.
i have no idea how he did it. none of us do. no one in television history has ever done anything like it. no one knew it could be done before he did it. and in doing it, he took msnbc to new heights. i know that i now occupy a platform built for me by keith olbermann. had he not built this show, and welcomed me to it, i would be at home tonight watching -- i don't know, the real housewives of somewhere. i thank you, keith, and my 92-year-old mother thanks you, too. she could never stay awake past that first commercial break in my 10:00 show. good night, mom.
and now it is time for "the rachel maddow show". >> that was very cool, lawrence, not only about your mom, but about keith. good to have you here. everybody justifiably has a lot to say about what happened on this time around here friday night. i'll add my two cents few 24 hours from now, at this time tomorrow night president obama will be starting his state of the union address. actually, at exactly this point, he will probably be about three feet down the aisle shaking hands with, i'm guessing, democratic congressman elliott engel of new york, who every single year stakes out the best seat in the house so he can be seen shaking hands with the president right at the start of everything. no matter who the president is, as you can see here. exactly 24 hours from now, i am guessing elliott engel and his amazing mustache. roughly,